Monday, March 4, 2013

Hufflepuff & Ravenclaw 2

2: Design the Game Mechanics - Basics

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

Dear Student,
We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary rules and dice. The term begins on January 27th. We await your owl by no later than January 26th.
Yours sincerely,
Minerva McGonagall
Deputy Headmistress


First Year students will require:
1. One Name, pedestrian or punning for the identification of the character. Siblings, please consult with family members. For a list of actual common and rare surnames go to
2. One Birth, be it Pureblood, Half Breed or Muggle Born, to influence the character's starting skills.
2. Six Statistics for the character's mechanical basis (Ambition, Bravery, Fortitude, Intellect, Agility, Size). These range from 1 (the worst) to 7 (best), with 3 being average (and average size for a First Year).
3. One to Three Advantages based on your family, objects or aptitudes to differentiate the character. All start with at least one, and can take up to two more by defining additional Flaws.
4. One to Three Flaws, based on family, psyche or a natural ineptitude in some area of magic. Again, all start with one, and can take more for extra Advantages.
5. Fifteen points in Skills. Purebloods can spend up to 6 points in Magical skills but no points in Muggle skills. Muggle Born are the reverse. Half Breeds can spend up to 3 points in both Magic and Muggle skills.
6. Seven points in Youth. Youth lets you manipulate dice after they are rolled. This number diminishes by 1 point per year you age, (a Fifth year student 3 Youth).

Other Equipment
1 Notepad for character sheet and notes.
1 Pencil or Pen
3 Dice - 1d20 and 2d6.
Any little knickknacks such as wands etc. at the table won't matter to play, but will be fun. 

Names Notes

One of the joys of the early books is wordplay in the names - Diagon Alley, the transfiguration book being written by Emric Switch & the herbology book penned by Phyllida Spore. I hope to continue this tradition, but I understand that what might be a funny joke in a throw away could get irksome as a character name. I suspect the process will work best if you have a character aptitude in mind - Rex Jurassic works if you are gifted in the care of magical creatures and a dragon lover. Otherwise, well, not so much. Use caution.

Birth Blather

Birth and blood means more as the books progress, but in the year immediately after Voledemort's failure to kill young Harry it is something people are shying away from - fear of what pureblood supremacists wrought has made everyone more tolerant (superficially at least). Therefore there is no special advantage to birth type.  Having the Advantages of Wealthy or Famous makes more sense if you're a Pureblood, but any benefits come from the Advantage, not the birth type.

The only time it matters is with skills - Muggle Born can't start play with magical skills, while Purebloods can't start with Muggle skills. Both, however, can start with more points in skills they grew up with. Mixed blood born split the difference, able to spend a little in each area. Much of this is free-form: Harry is a pureblood raised by Muggles and suffers the Muggle Born problems, while Hermione is a Muggle Born but aggressive pre-school studies let her be treated as a Half Breed with points in Magic skills.

As play goes on characters will look like slack jawed yokels when they try something outside their idiom (Harry's first use of flue powder, or Ron trying to use the telephone). After that first moment of humor they can use it normally and even master it (Fred and George picking Muggle locks with Muggle tools).

Setting Statistics

All characters are defined by six statistics: the four house Qualities, Agility and Size. Your character will have scores of 1 to 8 (or slightly higher for Size). Once set these do not change (again other than Size). 
1 Indicates that the character is notably inept in the field - they are cowardly, slothful, obtuse, clumsy, small or lack all conviction.

2 Means that the character is average or slightly below average, but it’s not terribly notable.  This is also the base size for a First Year.

3 Means the character is average or slightly above in the area; this is as low as you can expect a house quality to be without some disadvantage.

4 Is above average when compared to the mass of humanity. A 4 Agility means the character is mildly athletic.

5 Is exemplary, standing out to the teachers as being exceptional - at a 5 or higher expect people to start grooming your future. A 5 agility character is athletic and graceful.

6 Is heroic drawing attention from fellow students and people outside Hogwarts as well as teachers. A 6 agility character is clearly a physical prodigy. This is as good as it gets, and the character is quickly noted for great things. Voldemort had 6 Ambition; Dumbledore has 7 Intellect.

7 and higher are only available for Size. A size of 7 is average for an adult, and is the size of an average 7th year.

Most Characters have scores of 2-3 in all stats except their House quality, which is a 3-4, and Size, which will be 1+their class year.

There are two options for setting your statistics: random rolls or points. Both make use of this table (which includes numbers for NPCs for reference).

For random, roll 2d6 six times, find rolls the PC Roll column and reference the Stat Score column. Record the numbers in the desired Statistics - you do not have to keep them in the order you rolled them!

Stat Score            NPC Roll               % chance             PC Roll                  % chance             Point Cost
1                              2-4                          17%                        2-3                          8%                          0
2                              5-7                          42%                        4-6                          33%                        1
3                              8-9                          25%                        7-8                          31%                        2
4                              10-11                     14%                        9-10                       19%                        4
5                              12                           3%                          11-12                     8%                          6

For point build, you have 10 points to spend on the four House Qualities & Agility, at the point costs given above. You can select a size between 1 and 3, but it is not a factor in points as it is subject to change in play.

There are some other rules for statistic placement:
1. You sorted house quality MUST be your highest of the four qualities, but can be exceeded by Agility or Size. If you plan the character to be in Hufflepuff, Fortitude must be your highest stat. It can be tied with other stats (such as Ambition 1, Bravery 2, Fortitude 4, Intellect 4, Agility 1), but no stat can exceed it. (However, see Mis-Sorted in Advantages).

2. If random rolls produce a character that would cost more than X points on the point build method you cannot pick any Statistic-altering Advantages. You have advantages enough.

3. If random rolls produce a character that could cost less than Y points on the point build method you can start over. There is some risk in random rolls, but as the characters are meant to be heroic they shouldn't start too far below average.

But what do the statistics mean?
Ambition is the character's drive and ability to manipulate things to reach goals. In play Ambition is added to any attempt to manipulate things or people. It could be in intimidation, connections or camaraderie in a social setting - having something you want and getting others to help do it. In magic it's good for both subtle spells requiring delicate handling or huge spells where only the ambitious would dare to direct such power.

Bravery measures the character's strength in the face of fire. In play Bravery is added to any task when the character is in jeopardy, taking a risk or resisting an immediate (or looming) shock. Most often used in physical tests, but social tasks can be high risk it means you're challenging your sense of self. In magic Bravery covers mid-range reliable spells or potent-but-volatile ones: the ones cast when in danger.

Fortitude is the character's willpower and ability to stick to a task. In play Fortitude is added to extended tasks or to overcome mental, social and physical effects to return to their original course of action. In magic Fortitude is best for long term castings and rituals that patiently build up power. Herbology, for example, relies on Fortitude, as it calls for patient cultivation.

Intellect is the character's ability to process data and invent new things. In play Intellect is added to any task to learn (especially in a controlled setting), to process data in the solving of mysteries or creating/adapting spells. In magic Intellect covers rare magics based on arcane concepts; high intellect wizards and witches will master a lot of reliable spells because they learn quickly.

Agility is the character's physical grace, deftness and coordination. It has no impact on magic and is in many ways a fall back stat: if state of mind has nothing to do with a physical task then Agility is added to the roll. A character climbing a cliff for fun would add Agility to the task. One climbing a cliff to escape a hell-hound would add Bravery instead, finding his courage to make the climb or having his hands slick from sweat and limbs tremble as his nerve fails him (depending on whether his Agility is worse or better than his Bravery). A dancer with no goals adds Agility; one who is trying to woo a paramour would add Ambition, either shifting the dance for the correct effect or being so charming that their footwork flaws are overlooked.

Size is a combination of the character's mass and strength. A First Year student has a size of 2, equivalent to the mass and muscle of an 11 year old. A character will, on average, gain 1 point of Size per year. A size of 7-9 is an average adult. There's a rough trade-off between muscle mass and fat - a Size 8 man may be tall and lithe or mid height and corpulent, but their ability to take damage and deliver force is about the same. Obviously some characters have higher Sizes, but Size higher than 12 is only allowed with an appropriate Advantage. Size is not added to skills on any task checks.